Humour and Spirituality
A disciple once asked Maharaj Charan Singh: “Master, what is the role of humour in Sant Mat?” His response is worth reflecting upon:
Sant Mat should make us better humans rather than pull us down to the level of animals. You see, except for humans, nobody laughs. I don’t think you have seen any bird laughing or any dog laughing or any animal laughing. They may smile, but the privilege of laughter is given only to humans. So if we want to remain human, humour has to be there, just to help us relax.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
Laughter is universal. Everybody laughs in the same language – the language of joy and happiness is a bond common to all humans. Regardless of race, despite pluralities of culture, smiles and laughter are the same the world over. As Maharaj Ji said, it makes one more human – relaxed, softer and kinder; predisposed towards a positive attitude. Perhaps it also makes us less inclined towards our baser tendencies which make us primitive and harsh, leaving no room for levity and kindness of heart. But one has to ask, is it just laughter that makes for happiness? Maharaj Charan Singh explains:
Everyone wants to be happy in this world. When you have happiness within, you want to share it with others. And that is humour, nothing else. Humour doesn’t mean taunting anybody or making a fool of yourself. You see, enjoying a joke means that you enjoy it and the other person also enjoys it. You can’t enjoy a joke at the cost of another person; that is no humour at all. That is taunting or ridiculing the other person, which is wrong. Humour means the other person enjoys as much as you enjoy. And when you are happy within, you can’t help radiating happiness and sharing it with others. You go to a miserable person, he’ll make you miserable. You go to a happy person, he will automatically make you happy. He will relax you in two minutes.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
The Masters qualify that the type of humour that is most desirable is born out of an intrinsic happiness that comes from within. Untainted by ridicule or mockery towards others or even oneself, it is a solid type of happiness, wholesome and pure.
This innate sense of happiness is a mere spillover of a deeper sense of joy; a sense of contentment that comes with embracing the Sant Mat way of life – of having a Master, being initiated and living within the four vows, especially the vow of meditation.
Through meditation, we are able to tame our mind and its passions - which are the primary source of our misery. Furthermore, meditation makes us rise above our physical existence and makes us realize our spiritual nature, the source of true happiness.
It is when meditation becomes our focus – the single most important task in our life – that we realize that this world is an illusion, as are all the joys and sorrows it brings. All are temporary, passing and perishable.
Then we acquire a light-hearted and cheerful attitude towards life, and its ups and downs. Having realized that whatever we go through is just karmic drama, we understand that all is temporary and that everything gets resolved eventually.
We can then undergo a shift in attitude, a change in priorities, whereby reality takes precedence over that which is illusory. We are dutiful to the world, but our deep, inner joy comes from our spiritual life – sitting in meditation, attending satsang, doing seva and the occasional highlight of seeing the Master and having his darshan. This way, we gradually awaken to the meaning of our existence – to realize the truth, and work towards returning to our true home. This is what gives us happiness and contentment.
As it is often said, laughter is the best medicine, a cure for worldly burdens. But the real antidote to this world is the Master, and his most precious gift of Shabd. Through meditation we can obtain this gift which will bring us unparalleled joy and laughter.
God is always with you to help, guide and protect.
Go through your life with laughter
and always have a happy approach towards it.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Quest for Light